More Chocolate – Less Stress Eating?

We all know intuitively that chocolate can uplift mood and help you feel good temporarily.

A new study at Nestlé Research Center (where else?) Lausanne, Switzerland, found that eating just over an ounce of dark chocolate daily for two weeks lowered stress hormone levels in highly stressed people (that would be us) and also partially corrected other stress-related biochemical imbalances.

These are the same folks that published a photo of a Hersheys bar with the word “happiness” on it. Continue reading

Stress Relief and Hot Yoga

It takes place in a candlelit room.

Just 3 small windows for natural light, and 3 small candles.

I’ve figured out a very simple formula.

Less stress = less stress eating.

Hot yoga is one of the paths I have chosen to get there.

As I walk in, it feels just plain HOT! It’s the same 95 degrees and the same series of poses, but every time, you experience it differently, the instructor explains.

Her instructions are simple. For the next 90 minutes, when thoughts come into your mind, just pretend you are on vacation and you don’t have to think about it right now.

The purpose of yoga is to quiet the mind. And since the mind needs something to do, you can just focus on your breath.

Continue reading

The Dark Side of Cardio

I used to love cardio exercise and have done a LOT of it in my lifetime. I was a (slow) long-distance runner and bike racer. I loved both the solitude of a long run alone and the camaraderie of a 50-mile bike ride with friends.

Last November, when I went to lose the LAST 10 lb., I did NOT focus on cardio. Frankly I was tired of it, and mostly what it did was increase my appetite! I knew I needed to amp up my workouts, but I didn’t want to spend hours in the gym.

The best thing about cardio for me, since I don’t have any heart health issues, is it’s ability to help with stress relief. As it turns out, cardio is not only a great way of coping with stress, but it’s also good for your brain, at least when you get outside in nature.

Researchers at the University of Michigan found that attention and memory improve when you spend time in nature, as opposed to a city environment.¬† This finding supports a theory that goes back to William James, suggesting that there are 2 types of attention: involuntary and “directed” attention, which requires more focus. Being in nature captures your involuntary attention, while allowing your directed attention to rest, freeing up mental capital. In other words, your mind is relaxed!

So if you want to do cardio, go find a park or a bike trail. I used a strength training program to build muscle and burn fat.

As it turns out, new research shows that the body’s inability to build muscle is the NUMBER 1 predictor of accelerated aging! The more capable we are of putting muscle on our bodies, the longer we are going to live.

So, get me to the gym – I just don’t want to spend the day there!

Spending time in nature will reduce stress, and you will get unexpected benefits of increased memory and attention. If you reduce stress, you will reduce stress eating. Just don’t expect the pounds to fly off by pounding the treadmill alone!

5 Ways To Stop Stress Eating and Build Resilience

Stress drains your ability to pick yourself up after life lets you down unless you build stress resilience.

Just as you take in nutritional food and transform it into energy, positive emotions transform into resiliency.

People who are resilient tend to be able to take things in stride, choosing positive emotions and behaviors in the face of stress, and are less likely to engage in stress eating. Continue reading